The Iranian government and parliament have drafted a bill to establish a $2bn program to support low-income families and provide them with staple foodstuffs. The head of parliament’s Research Center, Ahmad Tavakoli, has been appointed to finalize the drafting of the bill and its submission to the Majlis. The decision to proceed with the support program comes at a time when parliament continues to debate whether the second stage of the targeted subsidies plan should be implemented. The cabinet and some heads of the parliamentary commissions are due to meet on 2 February to discuss the possible launch of the second phase, Iranian deputy Hamid Reza Fuladgar recently announced.

With the official inflation rate soaring to 27.4% in the Iranian month (Azar) ending on 20 December 2012 and people struggling to provide for their daily needs, the Majlis and the government have agreed to make available the proposed $2bn from the National Development Fund (NDF). The latter was established in 2011 under the fifth five-year development plan (2010-15), with the aim of converting oil and gas revenue into productive investments for future generations. The NDF, which is allocated 20% of hydrocarbon revenue, had about $42.8bn in cash holdings at the end of 2012, according to its managing director Mohammad Reza Farzin (MEES, 7 December 2012). (CONTINUED - 329 WORDS)